Future Past: 173 Retrofuturistic Design & Technology Ideas
Article by Steve, filed under Vintage & Retro in the Technology category.

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Back to the future… more than a movie franchise, it’s a way of looking at what might be from the viewpoint of way back when. The results are a satisfying combo of wishful thinking, old-school technology and above all, a sepia-toned vision of a better tomorrow. From retrocool concept cars to far-out fashion in sci-fi inspired cities of tomorrow, these 173 samples of retrofuturistic design & technology will take you back to the good old days to come!

Retrofuturistic Ads: Selling a Brighter Tomorrow

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Advertisers just love retrofuturistic themes. A single such ad pushes all the right buttons, from nostalgia for an idealized past to our hopes for a better, brighter, 3-D panoramic future. Whether it’s cars, home appliances or the wonders promised by computers, tinting ads with a retrofuturistic tone was – and still is – a surefire way of changing potential buyers to satisfied customers. Click Here for more Retrofuturistic Ads that Sell a Brighter Tomorrow

Retrofuture Fashion: 11 Past Futuristic Outfits

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Most of us have enough trouble picking out what we’re going to wear today, never mind some future decade… although from the looks of things, women won’t be wearing much besides silver bikinis and really big hats. Sound far-fetched? Watch any of the video music TV channels for a while and you’ll have to agree, past visionaries pretty much hit the bullseye with their future fashion extrapolations. Click Here for more Past Futuristic Outfits that Predict Retrofuture Fashion

At World’s End: 25 Post-Apocalyptic Visions

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All good things must come to an end, and that includes us. Artists and visionaries of the past as well as their modern counterparts have always attempted to predict the end of days, wondering if we will go out with a bang or a whimper. This is one case where the days after tomorrow are not bright and full of hope… maybe it’s just a reflection of humanity’s failure to learn the hard lessons of the past and thus, repeat them. Click Here for more Post-Apocalyptic Visions that paint the future in a not-so-friendly light.

Retrofuture Urbanism: 10 Past Future Cities

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Before we turn off the lights and leave the building, however, humanity will put on a show that will make even Elvis look drab. Its what we do: build a skyscraper today, plan an even taller one for tomorrow. Designs for these utopian wonders range from weird to wild and back again, many evoking retro themes – presumably to help give us some point of reference. Click Here to visit more Past Future Cities displaying Retrofuture Urbanism

A Series of Tubes: 12 Pneumatic Networks Past, Present & Futurama

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Just how does one get around a retrofuturistic city, anyway? The answer may be found on the tube and in the tubes: the TV show Futurama and pneumatic tubes, that is. Pneumatic tube networks were the wonders of the age a century and a half ago, and their extravagant size and complexity boggles the mind to this day. While most of what was shuttled through vast tube networks above, below and through the world’s metropoli were paper and packages, designers had even grander plans afoot. Click Here to visit more Pneumatic Networks Past, Present & Futurama

20 Outstanding & Outrageous Concept Cars from Car-dom’s Golden Age

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Retrofuturism is almost second nature for car designers who have to look ahead on the one hand while retaining a connection with the company’s history at the same time. Designing concept cars allows designers to step up their game to a whole ‘nother level. If combining past and future in a single vehicle is a challenge, then these 20 retro-cool concepts pick up the gauntlet and slap back with a vengeance! Click Here to visit more Outstanding & Outrageous Concept Cars from Car-dom’s Golden Age

Loco Motives: 15 Steamin’ Hot Prototype & Concept Trains

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Sparks may fly when rubber meets the road but that’s nothing compared to banked fires within riding high on wheels of steel! Concept trains are anything but plain – there’s nary a cowcatcher in sight so cows, consider yourself forewarned. What’s most exciting about concept trains is that after a long and mighty run lasting the better part of two centuries, the train is poised for a comeback: this ain’t your grand-pappy’s Iron Horse; some don’t even have wheels. Click Here to visit more Loco Motives: Steamin’ Hot Prototype & Concept Trains

Retrofuture Rides: 12 Never-Produced Vehicles

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Sometimes designs are SO radical the technology doesn’t exist to produce them, yet over-the-edge concepts still serve a purpose in crystallizing a new direction or lending inspiration to more pedestrian products that are most companies’ bread & butter. It may well be that weird, wild designs act as a safety valve for designers who feel stifled by the need to be practical. So-called dream machines also show consumers that companies, even countries are looking ahead to a time when their technological achievements may help them rise above their competitors. So sit back, dream on, and wonder… what if? Click Here to visit more Retrofuture Rides and Never-Produced Vehicles

Dynamic Soarers: 13 Brilliant Prototype & Concept Airplanes

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Powered flight as a concept goes back to at least the Renaissance and futuristic visionaries like Leonardo da Vinci, but it took the advancement of modern technology to really get those props spinning. Even so, the history of flight features as many flops as it does flights: could a motorcycle with 20 wings fly? Someone made the effort to find out… and if he crashed into a house at least he’d be installing a set of venetian blinds. War as well spurred the effort to develop airplanes that surpassed all others; with lives in the balance, the stakes could not be higher. Click Here to visit more Dynamic Soarers: Brilliant Prototype & Concept Airplanes

15 Visions of Retro-Future Space Flight

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Space, the final frontier… that famous catchphrase from the original Star Trek embodies the spirit of retrofuturism, equating the “high frontier” with the Wild West. Even before the first successful manned space flight, artists and designers were under tremendous pressure to show the public exactly what was to come – and it wasn’t easy, since space was a place where “no man had gone before”. Some of their illustrations may look a little campy nowadays but one can still sense the hope, the yearning, the great expectations of our fantastic future worlds away. The triumph of Man’s first moon landing and the tragedies of Challenger and Columbia would rob us of our innocence but we can still look back across a gulf of space and time to a world where we were young and our steps were those of a child: as Arthur C. Clarke put it, “Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Orbiting”. Click Here to visit more Visions of Retro-Future Space Flight

Steampunk Boils Over!

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Nothing says Retrofuturism like Steampunk, the design aesthetic devoted to brass, wood and steam employed to depict a retro-industrial theme. Victorian cyborgs flaunt brass-riveted steampunk fashion while steampunk high-tech art & design takes on a polished hue redolent of linseed oil and sandalwood. Even LEGO maniacs have been bitten by the steampunk bug… now that’s gotta hurt!

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